Plans to build a second runway and terminal at London Stansted Airport have been formally unveiled.
Stansted's operator, the British Airports Authority (BAA), announced that it had submitted a planning application for the development to planning authorities at the local council, Uttlesford District Council.
If approved, the plans would double the size of London's "third airport", enabling Stansted to handle 68 million passengers per year by 2030.
BAA claimed Stansted's development would "bring huge benefits to the east of England and UK economy", creating 13,000 jobs over 20 years and generating £9 billion.
However, the move has provoked dismay among local residents and environmental groups.
Stansted Airport Development Planning Application
BAA's planning application is known as "G2" (Generation Two), and specifies a list of 15 points covering the development. This includes the new 3,000-metre runway and terminal, construction of taxiways and aprons, a new fire station, air traffic control tower and supporting road infrastructure, plus hotels and offices.
The development would cover 442 hectares of land and result in 13 listed buildings being lost, although 10 of these would be rebuilt.
Some buildings currently in residential use would need to be moved to make way for the development.
If approved, the second runway would be positioned some 2.2 km east of the existing runway. It would operate in "segregated mode", with one runway used for landings and the other for take offs. This is the system employed at Manchester International Airport, the only other major UK airport apart from Heathrow that currently has two runways.
The submission document says the development would be phased in - a first phase, running to 2015 that would cost £1.4 billion, followed by further phases costing £2.27 billion.
Stansted Expansion Critics
In a similar way to the controversial proposals to develop Heathrow, local residents, environmental campaigners and some politicians have joined forces to criticise the Stansted development. They reacted angrily to the application, having campaigned for many years against further development at the Essex airport.
Carol Barbone from the Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE) campaign group, said: "BAA's planning application for a second runway goes beyond environmental vandalism and is tantamount to a declaration of war on the local community".
Local councillor James Abbot MP, from the Green Party, added: "BAA's plans are nothing less than lunatic...these are the plans of those driven by corporate greed and blind ignorance to what they are inflicting on communities and the environment".
Essex County Council also registered their disapproval of the development plans. Commenting that they would fight the plans "tooth and nail", the Council said: "it [would] have a severe impact on the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of Essex residents with more pollution, traffic, noise and [would] place huge pressure on already overstretched infrastructure and public services".
Source - Airport International's UK Correspondent